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The Palestinian Scarf … Fashion Statement or Symbol?

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 16.11.2008:

A Palestinian Scarf Becomes Hip-hop Chic

By Lawrence Delevingne

In 1988, I bought my very first black and white Palestinian scarf from a clothing shop in my city, Jenin. I used to wear it as a symbol and to cover my face when we were going to fight against the occupation and throw stones at the Israeli soldiers. In 2008, I saw something that looked like a kaffiyeh, but with lots of colours, at a clothing shop in Berlin, and I wondered whether this was the Palestinian scarf. Then I saw that the owner called it the scarf with the “PLO touch.” I talked to him and discovered that he did not understand what the design of the scarf meant, but he used the sign to attract people’s attention in hopes that they would buy the scarf, choosing from the various colours that were available. That experience gave me an idea: I decided to make a project out of the kaffiyeh issue and began to photograph people on the streets who were wearing a kaffiyeh and ask them why they were wearing it and what it meant to them. To my amazement, I discovered that most people wore it knowing that it was a symbol of the Palestinians and their struggle. Yet the kaffiyeh has become more popular since its appearance in a fashion show by designer John Galliano.

Khaled Jarrar

I am a Hispanic teenager and own a black and white Palestinian scarf, but I don’t wear it to be fashionable. I wear it as a sign of support for the Palestinian right to freedom. I knew what the scarf’s meaning was before I bought it, and as my friends always tell me: “Yo man, the scarf is hot.” I always ask them if they know what it stands for, but they all answer me with a no. I tell them what it means and they always ask me why I wear it. I just tell them that every person deserves to live in freedom. So I still wear it to show that I support the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

This Week in Palestine

November 2008

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